Bulldogs limit mistakes, make big plays down stretch in win at UNLV


Fresno State’s Deon Stroud dunks against UNLV during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

LAS VEGAS, Nev. – Entering Wednesday, the Fresno State men’s basketball team had not beaten a Mountain West opponent currently ahead of them in the conference standings.

However, the Bulldogs put an end to that trend, putting together arguably, their best performance of the year in a 67-64 win at UNLV on Wednesday night.

Fresno State (10-9, 8-9) got a season-high 19 points from Isaiah Hill and Deon Stroud added 18 points, including a spectacular second half dunk that is sure to make the rounds on the sports highlight shows.

Stroud’s monstrous dunk came with the Bulldogs trailing 48-42 in the second half, but was the first basket of a 11-2 Fresno State run that put the Bulldogs up 53-50 with 8:58 left.

UNLV fought back to grab a 61-60 lead on a Bryce Hamilton jumper with 1:44 left, but Stroud responded with two big baskets on Fresno State’s next two possessions to give Fresno State a 64-61 lead with only :35 seconds to play. The Bulldogs hung on from there, to inch a little closer to UNLV (10-12, 7-8 MW) in the battle for sixth place in the conference standings.

Hill was 3-for-5 from beyond the arc, and 8-of-9 at the free throw line, and the Bulldogs also got 12 points and 8 rebounds from Anthony Holland.

“I thought we stuck together and when it was time to make big plays we made a few,” said Bulldogs head coach Justin Hutson. “They made a few also, but we responded.  I really liked our response tonight and I like how we played down the stretch.”

The Bulldogs leading scorer Orlando Robinson finished with 12 points, but got there on only 3-of-11 shooting.

As a team, the Bulldogs made 10 3-pointers, significantly above their season average of 6.3 three’s a game, and turned it over only six times, well below their season average of 14.4 turnovers per game.

The Bulldogs also were terrific at the free throw line — a place where they normally struggle — making 17-of-23 overall.

Bryce Hamilton led the Rebels with a game-high 27 points.

These two teams will meet again on Friday at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas. Tipoff is again scheduled for 8 p.m. It’s being televised by the CBS Sports Network.

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